Ambassador Richard Holbrooke lauded by presidents, VIPs

January 15, 2011 06:43
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WASHINGTON  — President Obama and Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton led tributes to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke at an extraordinary gathering of American and global VIPs Friday, lauding him as a giant of American diplomacy who left his mark on history not only as a peace negotiator but as a humanitarian who helped save countless lives in war-torn nations.

The more than 1,000 people who filled the Kennedy Center for his memorial service reflected the impact that Holbrooke had on US diplomacy from his early years as a young foreign service officer in Vietnam in the 1960s to his roles in helping restore US relations with China, ending the war in Bosnia in 1995 and trying in his latest job to get Afghanistan and Pakistan to improve cooperation and step up the fight against terrorism.

Obama and the Clintons were joined at the service by Vice President Joe Biden, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, national security adviser Tom Donilon and many of Washington's other powerful players, present and past, as well as friends and family.

Internationally, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili came to pay tribute, along with government ministers from Afghanistan, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and many ambassadors.

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